Gateway Gazette

Young Race Car Driver Puts the Brakes on Distracted Driving

16258822919_51bca40795_zA 16-year old racing phenomenon from Red Deer has launched a new program to educate elementary to high school students about the dangers of distracted driving.

Parker Thompson is on a mission to travel across Alberta to provide his peers with best practices on staying focused when they get behind the wheel.

”In racing, I know that taking my attention off the track for even a second can have serious consequences, and it’s no different when driving on our roads and highways. By educating a new generation of Albertans about the dangers of distracted driving, we can prevent a lot of collisions before they happen.”

~ Parker Thompson

Research indicates that driver distractions contribute to 20 to 30 per cent of all collisions and that distracted drivers are three times more likely to be involved in a collision than attentive drivers.

“These students are our next generation of drivers and Parker is taking the initiative to share valuable lessons so others can develop good behaviours before getting behind the wheel. These students are seeing how a split-second decision can change lives forever.”

~ Wayne Drysdale, Minister of Transportation

Quick facts about distracted driving

  • If you’re traveling 100 km/h, you will travel the length of a football field in the time it takes to send a text message (approximately five seconds).
  • Since the legislation came into effect there were 60,216 convictions for distracted driving in Alberta (September 1, 2011 through March 31, 2014)
  • There were 25,913 convictions for distracted driving in Alberta last year (April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014)
  • Ninety-six per cent of these convictions were for using a hand-held electronic device while driving.
  • Male drivers account for two-thirds of all convictions.
  • Young male drivers, aged 22 to 34 years, have the highest conviction rates.

Alberta’s Distracted Driving Law

Alberta’s distracted driving law restricts drivers from:

  • using hand-held cellphones
    • texting or e-mailing (even when stopped at a red light)
    • using electronic devices like laptop computers, video games, cameras, video entertainment displays, and
    • programming portable audio players (e.g., MP3 players)
    • entering information on GPS units
    • reading printed materials in the vehicle
    • writing, printing or sketching and
    • personal grooming
  • The fine for distracted driving is $172.
  • Drivers who exhibit what is deemed to be more serious or risky behaviours could be charged with “driving carelessly” under the Traffic Safety Act. The penalty for driving carelessly carries six demerit points and a fine of $402.

Distracted DrivingAbout Parker Thompson

Parker Thompson was born and raised in Red Deer and got behind the wheel of his first kart at the age of eight. Starting later than most of his competition, Parker moved up through the karting ranks swiftly. He went from being a weekend warrior, rolling a kart and toolbox in the back of a family half-ton in Calgary, to a championship-winning fixture in many of the world’s top karting events.

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